CS Rider Levels
Over the years I have taught students of a wide variety of background and various experience levels. I have noticed there is often a lack of uniformity in the basic skills of even some rather experienced riders. School programs that focus on children (and jumpers/eventing) often have a written "levels" system. This allows the students and teachers to be on the same page as to what the rider needs to learn/improve so that they may move to work that is more challenging (and potentially more dangerous). Though I teach many more adults, I have implemented a similar system for the same reason. Don't worry, there will be no public tests or awards ceremonies, but instead a means of guiding student and instructor in what needs work.
- must be achieved before a rider can join a group lesson
- to have achieved Intro Level a rider must be able to do all of the following:
1) Correctly catch (from stall), halter, lead and tie their horse for grooming while demonstrating safe horsemanship skills.
2) Demonstrate knowledge of correct use of grooming tools and technique, use safe horsemanship skills while working around the horse and do a thorough job of grooming and picking the feet of their school horse. (Small children may be assisted with feet picking).
Equitation and Rider Strength
3) 2 laps of the arena in 2 pt. position @ the walk while maintaining control of the horse, w/o sitting down, heels 1” lower than toes, toes under knees, hands low and controlled.
4) 2 laps of the arena @ rising trot maintaining control of the horse, on the correct diagonal, heels 1” lower than toes, toes under knees, hands low and controlled.
5) Serpentine pattern around cones @ trot showing smooth and controlled use of the reins and proper aids for turning.
6) Correct sized/shaped 20 m circle @ walk both directions.
7) Halt from walk @ designated letter demonstrating correct use of the aids - straight body, low hands, draping (not gripping) legs.
8) Trot to walk transition @ designated letter demonstrating correct use of the aids - straight body, low hands, draping (not gripping) legs.
9) Change of rein across the diagonal, both directions @ the trot.
Advanced Beginner Level
- Must be passed before leasing, riding outside (unassisted), and most farm events
- To have achieved Advanced Beginner Level rider must be able to do all of the following:
1) Correctly tack up horse demonstrating proper saddle/pad placement. Bridle horse demonstrating correct technique - getting horse to lower head, keep it lowered and accept the bit softly.
2) Mount unassisted from mounting block with reins proper length to keep horse still and under control, using legs to push up rather than arms to pull up, using right hand to counter balance weight and keep saddle from shifting sideways, and sit down gently.
3) Dismount independently removing either both feet from the stirrups before beginning dismount or removing one, swinging over, leaning across saddle and removing other foot before sliding down.
Equitation and Rider Strength
4) Demonstrate 2 pt. @ the trot for a minimum of 5 laps of the arena, while maintaining control of the horse, w/o sitting down or bumping the saddle with hind end, heels 1” lower than toes, toes under knees, hands low and controlled and on a loose rein.
5) Demonstrate 2 pt. w/o stirrups @ the walk for 1 complete lap of the arena while maintaining control of the horse with hands low and controlled and soft on the reins.
6) Demonstrate rising trot w/o stirrups @ trot for 1 lap of the arena with low and controlled hands.
7) Demonstrate sitting trot down the long side of the arena with hands low, controlled, and soft on the reins; heels 1” lower than toes, toes under knees, seat not loosing contact with the saddle (bumping up and down).
8) Canter on 20 m circle - transition from trot in first quarter of circle and back to trot on last quarter. Displaying low, controlled hands, correct leg position, and a following seat.
9) The USDF Intro C Test or Western Dressage Basic Level Test 1
- emphasis placed on correct figures with proper bend and timely transitions
10) Turn on the forehand both directions against the wall with minimal neck bend.
11) A “bend to a stop” from both walk and trot followed by release of the rein in response to horse’s lateral give. Demonstrates feel in recognizing horse’s give.
- To have reached the Intermediate I Level a rider must be able to do all of the following:
1) Sit the trot w/o stirrups for 2 laps of the arena with low, controlled hands; correct leg position - toes higher than heels, toes under knees, and a quiet seat.
2) Canter in 2 pt for 2 laps of the arena - while maintaining control of the horse, w/o sitting down or bumping the saddle with hind end, heels 1” lower than toes, toes under knees, hands low and controlled and on a light rein contact.
3) Trot over small cross rail in 2 pt position w/o bumping into the saddle and while using a crest release.
4) Flex the horse laterally @ the poll left and right first at a halt and then at a walk, showing enough feel to wait for the horse to give and releasing to the horse when it gives - resulting in a soft feel.
5) Bend to a stop from a trot and untrack the horse’s hindquarters, both directions.
6) Counter shoulder-in @ the walk both directions, minimal bend in the horse’s neck.
7) Training Level Test 3 or Western Dressage Basic Level Test 4.
- emphasis on stretchy circle and free walk.
- obvious changes of bend in the loops portion of the test
8) Halt to trot, trot to halt transitions with no walk in upward transition and less than 2 strides of walk in downward.
9) Shallow serpentine exercise demonstrating good rein connection to front feet.
10) Leg yield @ walk away from wall out to the ¼ line and back to wall with minimal bend in the neck.
10) Circle and untrack hind (3 track circle) exercise both directions.
11) Back horse on lead 8-10 steps smoothly and lightly.
12) Demonstrate getting lateral flexion at the poll right and left on rope halter